Feeling nervous about going to the dentist is completely normal; however, there are some people that experience this feeling worse than others and suffer from dental anxiety, a condition that has negative repercussions on a person’s health. Dental anxiety is an overwhelming fear or panic that sets in upon attending a dental appointment (or even just at the thought of it), and it is extremely common amongst children and adults; overall, it affects about one in ten children and one in six adults. While dental anxiety is not a fun experience for either patient or dentist, it is, however, manageable and there are certain tactics and strategies to help handle the panic and fear of dentist visits.
Along with dental anxiety, dental phobia is another condition that affects patients, though it is slightly more uncommon. This condition is much more severe and involves a crippling fear of dentists. In the case of dental phobia, other health care professionals, like your general practitioner or therapist, may need to be involved to help manage it.
To help you overcome some of the fear and anxiety that comes with visiting your dentist, this article explores what dental anxiety is and some of the steps you can take to conquer it. Overall, while dental anxiety is common, it is something that can definitely be overcome – especially with the right dentist in your corner. It’s important to work towards a solution to your dental anxiety, not just for the sake of your teeth, but to avoid some overall health concerns. Let’s have a closer look at this condition and how to work towards a health perception of dentists.
Consequences of Dental Anxiety
As mentioned, dental anxiety can lead to some negative effects on your health. Often when people fear the dentist, they put off seeing one. If teeth go unchecked for extended periods of time, they can develop cavities and in severe cases, you might need to get a root canal. Ultimately, you’re setting yourself up for more invasive procedures over a simple check up. Further, cavities, infections, and certain gum diseases can lead to more significant problems to your overall health as the nerves in your mouth are linked to your bloodstream. If you’re experiencing an infection, this needs to be treated urgently as you could potentially develop sepsis. Further, gum disease has links to other health concerns if left untreated. While going to the dentist can be scary, it’s undoubtedly better to go before risking your health. The friendly team at Admire Dentistry are committed to ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible!
Signs of Dental Anxiety
When do nerves turn into anxiety or a full-blown panic attack?
While some people don’t like the dentist, they can usually overcome this nervousness to attend their appointment as they know they just need to get it over and done with. Others, however, really struggle to keep their physical and emotional reactions in-check. People that experience dental anxiety will often exhibit some of the following signs:
- Racing heartbeat or palpitations
- Low blood pressure and possible faintin
- Visible distress, crying, or signs of panic.
- Using humour or aggression to mask anxiety
- Avoidance of the dentist
- Sitting at the edge of the seat
- Changing sitting positions often
- Quickly flipping through magazines without really reading
- Pacing and nervously walking around the waiting room
- Rapid head movements or becoming startled at office noises
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety can stem from many different causes, and sometimes, it can just be completely irrational. Overall, patients usually experience fear as a result of preconceived notions of the dentist, from their or others’ previous dental experiences, or due to other conditions, or life experiences. These are some of the most common causes of the dental anxiety:
- A traumatic dental (or other healthcare related) experience
- Previous trauma to the head and neck
- Other traumatic experiences, including abuse.
- Generalised anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- The view that the mouth is a personal area and accessing the mouth is an invasion of personal space
- Fear of loss of control
- Trust issues
- Anxiety associated with other conditions such as agoraphobia (fear of being in situations where you feel you cannot escape), claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) or obsessive compulsive disorder where there is an obsession around cleanliness can make access to dental care more difficult.
How to Conquer Your Fears
Here at Admire Dentistry, we understand that visiting the dentist can be a scary thing. Unfortunately, putting off dental visits can lead to pain and more expensive treatments, and can impact your health beyond your mouth. That’s why we are here to work with you in helping you overcome your fear and get your oral health back on track. To help you overcome the stress and anxiety that comes with visits to the dentist, Dr Alex from Admire Dentistry shares her top tips for settling nerves.
1) Get to know your dentist
The most important thing in helping you feel comfortable is knowing you are in good hands. That’s why we are committed to making sure you have the best experience here at Admire Dentistry. Dr Alex is committed to taking the time to get to know her patients and will spend time helping you feel at ease. With every patient, she endeavors to explain the treatment options and makes sure to give each person time to feel comfortable during the procedure.
2) Make an appointment at a time that suits you
Make sure you schedule an appointment at a time of day when you are most relaxed. Have a busy afternoon school run? Perhaps a morning appointment suits you better. Perhaps work commitments bring additional stress? Then an evening appointment might be the one for you! Having some down time before and after a visit also gives you time to mentally prepare and wind down, so make sure you give yourself some additional time around your appointment if possible, if experiencing anxiety. At Admire Dentistry, we are open flexible hours during the week to ensure you can find a time that suits you.
3) Try breathing and relaxation techniques
Try and turn up to your appointment 10-15 minutes early. This way, you can spend time relaxing and watching TV in the waiting room and our friendly staff can even fix you a warm drink while you wait. We have TVs and music fitted in each of our dental surgeries so you can relax and concentrate on your choice of distraction while your dental treatment is completed. Make sure you concentrate on your breathing during treatment – don’t worry we will ensure you are comfortable and have plenty of breaks!
4) Visit a dentist that using the best technology
Here at Admire Dentistry we are committed to using only the best technology available. Unfortunately, most dental phobias or dental-related anxiety has been brought on by a past experience. The good news is that dentistry is constantly evolving and the technology we use is always improving. Ask us about our pain free injection technique using the wand to ensure you are as comfortable as possible!
With dental anxiety, sometimes it’s just about taking that first step. If you are nervous about the dentist and would like to meet Dr Alex, you are welcome to schedule a consultation where you can get to know Dr Alex and she can discuss what we can do to help you. If you would like to schedule an appointment, you can book online or give us a call on (07) 3064 1044.